Nel's New Day

December 26, 2019

DDT: Week 153 – Not a ‘Merry’ Christmas

[Note: My weekly roundup of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) happenings is a day earlier, and I may not be posting on Nels New Day for the next week. See you in 2020!)

DDT stayed quiet about Saudi Arabia’s exoneration of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman, the man behind the killing according to the CIA, got off scot free while five people were sentenced to death and three others to prison. The two men who directed the torture and dismemberment, former deputy chief of intelligence Ahmed al-Assiri and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s top aid Saud al-Qahtani, were exonerated. DDT claimed that he protected MBS so he could sell them weapons, but he also personally makes millions from the Saudi’s use of his hotels and their real estate purchases. 

North Korea threatens a “Christmas gift” of nuclear testing, and DDT’s former national security adviser claims that DDT’s administration will soon need to admit failure in stopping NK’s nuclear ambitions because the U.S. is not “exerting maximum pressure on North Korea.” The U.S. has only a “rhetorical policy” with no actions to stop NK having nuclear weapons that can hit the U.S. or its allies. North Korea is “operating at full tempo” in building nuclear warheads according to experts, but DDT says things are just fine between him and Kim Jong-Un. A new structure was seen on a recent satellite image of the location where NK makes equipment for launching long-range missiles, and Bolton called NK an “imminent” threat.

After far-right evangelical Christian leaders’ attacks on the op-ed in Christianity Today advocating impeachment, author Mark Galli reported a boost in readership and support that outweighs criticism. In a second CT op-ed, editor Timothy Dalrymple wrote that evangelicals can be proud of DDT’s anti-abortion and religious liberty stands but evangelicals are “also associated with President Trump’s rampant immorality, greed, and corruption; his divisiveness and race-baiting; his cruelty and hostility to immigrants and refugees; and more.” The Christian Post, published by DDT-supporting Richard Land, then attacked CT, causing Napp Nazworth, a CP editor since 2011, to quit. He said, “They’ve chosen to represent a narrow (and shrinking) slice of Christianity. That might be a good business decision, short term at least. But it’s bad for Democracy, and bad for the Gospel.” DDT is punishing anyone—including evangelicals—who don’t support him.

On the other end of retaliation comes massive rewards, as for Robert Blair, who refused to testify for the impeachment inquiry despite his witnessing DDT’s withholding military aid to Ukraine. Blair will support the 5G development efforts despite no background in telecommunications. With a law and diplomacy degree, he has overseen spending, most recently in the Defense Department, before he became senior advisor in national security issues for acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Johnnie Moore, a DDT appointee, participated on a UN panel to decriminalize homosexuality in 70 countries other than the U.S. but concentrated only on eliminating sodomy. Known for his anti-LGBTQ messages, Moore opposes marriage equality and supports DDT’s transgender military ban. 

Amidst Boeing’s disasters, CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg has been fired—immediately. Boeing’s shares dropped 22 percent since the grounding of the 737 Max planes in March, a $52 billion market value loss. Those in the know think that the new CEO David L. Calhoun, hired to reassure people, won’t make many changes.

To circumvent federal laws preventing the government from collecting some types of information, ICE uses social media and for-profit data brokers to track at least one immigrant before arresting him. The person’s only crime was to reenter the U.S. to be with his family. Reuters has a $20 million contract with ICE for use of its CLEAR database. Over 55 percent of all prosecuted federal crimes in fiscal 2018 were immigrant-related, an 87 percent increase during DDT’s first full year, with the vast majority being misdemeanor illegal entry.

Property owners in southern Texas don’t want to give up their land for the wall, but DOJ lawyers are filing lawsuits to take the land. Last week, they tried to seize the land before a scheduled court hearing in February. The Fifth Amendment requires “just compensation,” but the government can deposit any amount it deems fair with the court and then immediately take the land. Two judges recently ordered a private pro-DDT group to stop building its own wall so workers went on vacation for a few weeks. On another property in a federal wildlife refuge, workers decided that the land was too saturated to support metal bollards on top of concrete panels.

DDT’s retaliation against anyone disagreeing with him is to be feared, according to former Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), who did not run for re-election after expressing concern about DDT’s erratic behavior in a closed-door meeting with GOP colleagues. Other former and current GOP lawmakers and party strategists have anonymously agreed that elected officials can either retire or not criticize DDT. Out of office, Trott said:

“Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way. But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.”

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tweeted “Merry Christmas” yesterday before he launched into his increasingly vitriolic messages targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom for California’s homeless problem, the FISA court, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). His Christmas message called for “deeper understanding and respect.”

George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that requires 25 percent greater efficiency for household light bulbs. DDT blames President Obama for banning incandescent bulbs and continued his rants against problems with toilets, water for washing hands, and dishwashers. His latest problem is alternative energy when he said, “I never understood wind.” Then he claims that windmills create “tremendous fumes.” The person elected by 63 million people for the U.S. president can’t get his toilets to flush and doesn’t understand wind.

Why do people support DDT? In the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew identifies five major phenomena of his supporters:

Authoritarian Personality Syndrome: The advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom demonstrates a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. This syndrome can be displayed by aggression toward “outsiders,” resistance to new experiences, and a rigid view of a hierarchical society. Because it can be triggered by fear, leaders can use this emotion to gain allegiance. DDT is especially appealing to people with this syndrome.

Social Dominance Orientation (SDO): Related to the authoritarian personality syndrome, SDO highlights societal hierarchy of groups. DDT stresses the whites as having a higher status over immigrants and minorities. People scoring high in these first two characteristics tended to vote for DDT.

Prejudice: Going back to Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” the GOP appeals to bigotry with code words signaling prejudice toward minorities audible to racists. DDT is more direct by calling Muslims “dangerous” and Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers.”

Intergroup Contact: Contact with other groups than one’s own can reduce prejudice; DDT’s white supporters have significantly less contact with minorities. A 2016 study showed “racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.”

Relative Deprivation: Discontent comes from feeling deprived of what people believe they deserve, compared to others who they perceive as equal or inferior but who (unfairly) achieved more. DDT supported people’s feeling of entitlement by talking about U.S. jobs lost to Mexico and China while ignoring the large number of jobs lost to automation. https://qz.com/1144201/under-trump-us-jobs-are-moving-overseas-even-faster-than-before/   Ironically, DDT has sent more jobs overseas, including an additional 150 percent of federal contractors, than President Obama. The term “relative is used because the perception is skewed rather than “absolute.” For example, median annual income of DDT’s supporters is $72,000, smashing the myth of their being rebellious “working class.”

DDT promised a great economy for the United States, but the blue states bucking his policies see a faster growing economy than red states. Obsession to fracking caused 165,000 jobs, and coal mining has 53,000, an extra 2,000 during DDT’s office. Recent economic growth has occurred in urban areas, especially in the service industry. Blue states have increased the minimum wage, providing the national growth in wages which is small because the red states have largely left the wages static and suffering from inflation. The most heavily pro-Clinton areas saw mean household income increases of over $15,000 compared to the less than $10,000 rise in the most heavily pro-DDT areas. DDT promised jobs and wages; his tariffs brought exactly the opposite.

December 21, 2019

DDT: Week 152 – Dems Busy beyond Impeachment with GOP Obstruction

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) used tweets on Friday to attack the conservative evangelical publication Christianity Today founded by Billy Graham because it advocated his impeachment. Adding to his 15,000+ lies in less than three years, he called the publication “a far left magazine, or very ‘progressive,’ … which has been doing poorly and … knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call….” He also tweeted, “I won’t be reading ET [sic] again!” Graham’s son Franklin Graham criticized CT’s position but said he had not read the editorial about impeaching DDT. Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of the piece, retired on January 3 after 30 years involved with the magazine. 

DDT continued to threatened $250 million funding for Ukraine by blocking a $1.4 trillion spending package funding the federal government through the end of September 2020 if it contained the provision that he must release funds for the U.S. ally within 45 days. Democrats gave in to his demands to keep the U.S. from a shutdown by withdrawing the deadline for the funding release. The bill also lost a mandate that letters authorizing the release of congressional funding must be made public. In the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), DDT got his “space force,” and government employees got 12 weeks paid parental leave

The bills also raised the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 and a 3.1% pay increase for the troops and civilian federal employees. DDT got $1.375 billion for his wall, partly repair and less than the $8 billion he wanted. Defense spending increased by $22 billion. Elimination of three taxes to pay for the Affordable Care Act adds $373 billion to the deficit over the next decade. Forty-seven Republicans, once the party of fiscal prudence, voted for the budget that leads to more deficits. The GOP tax 2017 tax law already reduced U.S. tax revenue which fell 2.5 percent of tax-to-GDP in 2018, the most of any country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Republicans managed to keep violent white supremacists in the military by blocking an amendment while non-violent transgender recruits are banned.

DDT’s signatures on the bills avoids a government shutdown days before the first anniversary of the last one, a rancorous event that lasted 35 days and cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

With a vote of 385 to 41, the House passed another major bill this week, the trade deal with Mexico and Canada called NAFTA Lite. The bill looks very different from DDT’s original draft; even the AFL-CIO approves. Gone are the pharmaceutical protections for drug companies, and appearing are higher labor standards in Mexico, faster dispute resolution, higher environmental standards, and stronger enforcement of the deal. Mexico almost backed out with the requirement of five people from the U.S. to supervise its labor arrangements. While not perfect, the new trade agreement is considered better than the original NAFTA, passed 23 years ago.

These major accomplishments negate DDT’s and Republicans’ assertion that the impeachment inquiry kept the House from addressing any other issues. DDT called the opposing party “the Do-Nothing Democrats,” but “do-nothing” better fits Republicans. The House’s hard work is visualized in this photo of 275 House bills DOA (Dead on Arrival) in the Senate because (Do-Nothing) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to acknowledge them. 

Facebook removed over 600 accounts connected to the pro-DDT conspiracy website The Epoch Times for using artificial-intelligence identities to push fake stories about topics including impeachment and elections. The network, “The BL,” was operated by Vietnamese users pretending to be Americans and using fake photos created by algorithms to fake real identities. In pushing the pro-DDT conspiracy theories, The Epoch Media group spent $9.5 million on ads to spread content on the pages and groups that FB suspended. DDT’s official FB page posts their stories. A U.S.-based media company, The Epoch Media group, has now joined foreign governments to use foreign people posing as U.S. people to push pro-DDT content to its 55 million followers. Publisher of the U.S. editions of The Epoch Times, Stephen Gregory, claimed that it has no connection to BL because it’s part of Epoch Times Vietnam and that their former employees creating and working for BL doesn’t show any connection with its 89 pages, 156 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts.  The largest buyer of pro-Trump ads on Facebook until August, The Epoch Times was banned from buying FB ads after the company consistently violated FB’s political advertising rules.

One of the many lies in DDT’s Wednesday Michigan rally went viral, and Republicans, including DDT’s sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), demanded that DDT apologize. In response to Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) vote for impeachment, DDT said that her husband, a World War II veteran and former member of Congress, had gone to Hell. DDT also falsely claimed that Rep. Dingell had called him after her husband’s service to praise DDT when he called her. Pelosi said that DDT “misunderstands … that cruelty is not wit.”

The Dingell attack is part of DDT’s five ruling hallmarks:

Governing as perpetual warfare: us against them to inflame base and create deep divisions.

Governing by exhaustion: a war losing participants from boredom.

Governing by grievance and hyperbole: victimhood and martyrdom from declaring the BIGGEST or BEST or WORST as shown by the comparison of his impeachment to the Salem witch trials and the crucifixion of Jesus.

Governing by defiance: no matter the evidence, DDT also claiming that he’s never wrong.

Governing with “alternative facts”: over 15,000 lies in less than three years along with stories with no identification of people or changing names of characters. (Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) supports this position by telling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), “We’ve beat the facts back all the time.”)

In exhaustion, the fifth top official at the Pentagon resigned within the past week from these positions: international cooperation in weapons systems, Asia policy, personnel and readiness, advanced research, and intelligence. Acting chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to depart following the impeachment trial after being ignored in personnel, policy, and impeachment decisions. Rumor suggests his replacement is founder of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who said he won’t run for re-election and may work for DDT, something that he’s done for the past three years.

More exhaustion at DDT’s Michigan rally appeared when his “four more years” chant died in fewer than ten seconds. At the rally, DDT also claimed, “The steel is back”: Two days later, US Steel laid off 1,545 workers in closing its Great Lakes Works mill near Detroit.  In October, 376 Louisiana steel workers lost their jobs when Bayou Steel shut down its mill in LaPlace.

Senate Republicans keeps allowing Russia to interfere in U.S. elections while DDT’s administration fights to protect Russia from sanctions, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who usually walks in lockstep with DDT, introduced legislation to punish Russian people and companies for its interference in the 2016 election and its targeting of Ukraine, Syria, and dissidents for attacks. Sanctions were partly because of Russia’s capture of Ukrainian sailors and ships. DDT’s State Department sent a 22-page letter to Graham in opposition to his bill. It passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday with opposition from five of the 12 Republicans. McConnell can block the bill from going to the Senate floor.

After DDT met with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in the Oval Office during the impeachment inquiry, Vladimir Putin-approved state TV confirmed that DDT is a Russian agent in a segment called “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting with Trump.” And DDT isn’t the “puppet master” as this photo, requested by DDT, shows in Lavrov standing as the power behind the throne. 

Russia does expect DDT to “face a very unhappy period” after he leaves the White House. A joke was whether Russians should “get another apartment in Rostov ready.” Former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych settled in Rostov-on-Don when he fled to Russia in 2014. Valery Korovin, director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, said, “There are no disagreements or contradictions between Trump and Russia.” Putin-supporter and law professor Mikhail Antonov said, “Putin has expressed undisguised delight with the crusade led by Trump and Giuliani to whitewash Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections” and pin the blame on Ukraine.

Former White House officials say that DDT passes Russia propaganda such as the false theory about Ukrainian hacking supporting Clinton because Putin told him to do it.

A federal judge allowed the lawsuit against DDT and his administration alleging violation of federal records law after DDT confiscated and destroyed his meeting notes with Putin. No detailed records of DDT’s and Putin’s communication in their multiple meetings exist.

The White House is catching crazy from DDT’s conspiracy theories: reporter Brian Karem said it’s claiming that Hillary deliberately lost the election by getting help from Russian hacking so that DDT could be impeached. Although the logic sounds wacko, that is the culture of DDT’s administration. DDT also claimed that Democrats started trying to impeach him before he declared candidacy.

After DDT pardoned military war criminals, his approval rating with service members dropped—42 percent approval. Half of them gave DDT an unfavorable rating.

December 19, 2019

Conservative, Evangelical Support for Impeachment

Bret Stephens may be one of the most conservative columnists in the mainstream press, but he defended impeachment. His recent column started with a discussion about Gerald Ford’s deputy attorney general “Laurence Silberman, a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and a man widely admired by conservatives for his wisdom and rectitude,” talking about “the secret files of F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover.

“’Accompanied by only one F.B.I. official, I read virtually all these files in three weekends … Silberman, who was then President Gerald Ford’s deputy attorney general, recalled in a speech to a judicial conference. It was the single worst experience of my long governmental service…’

“’As bad as the dirt collection business was, perhaps even worse was the evidence that [Hoover] had allowed — even offered — the bureau to be used by presidents for nakedly political purposes. I have always thought that the most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage is to use its law enforcement machinery for political ends.’”

Stephens then wrote about the impeachment of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

“According to the public transcript of Donald Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, Trump said: ‘The server, they say Ukraine has it …. I would like to have the attorney general call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.’

“Trump also said: ‘There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.’

“Here is a textbook case of Judge Silberman’s ‘most heinous act in which a democratic government can engage.’ The president is unambiguously proposing to employ his chief law-enforcement officer to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that Trump hopes will burnish his political legitimacy. And he also proposes to use the attorney general in an attempt to investigate a political opponent for undeniably political ends.

“That Trump didn’t get away with it is a relief, not an exoneration. That he continues to insist the call was ‘perfect,’ as he did Tuesday in his letter to Nancy Pelosi, means that he is likely to do it again. That he attempted to subvert the will of Congress by impounding congressional funds for his political ends threatens the separation of powers in ways that will haunt a future Republican Congress. That he was prepared to endanger an ally and benefit an enemy is not treason, as the Constitution defines treason, but it is a travesty, as any American ought to understand travesty. That Republican leaders are cheering him only serves to define deviancy down and debase our political norms. That conservative pundits claim to be outraged at the F.B.I.’s investigation of the Trump campaign — or the smearing of Carter Page — while being indifferent to Trump’s attempt to investigate Joe Biden — and the smearing of Hunter Biden — marks a fresh low in rhetorical sophistry.

“There are people who believe that law, morality, traditions and institutions are at least as important to the preservation of freedom as the will of the people. Such people are called conservative. What Republicans are now doing with their lock step opposition to impeachment — and with their indifference to the behavior that brought impeachment about — is not conservative. It is the abdication of principle to power.

“I might think differently about impeachment if Trump had shown any sense of contrition. Or if Republicans had shown any inclination to censure him. But Trump hasn’t, and they haven’t. Whatever the political ramifications of impeachment now, history will judge members of this Congress harshly if they fail to state their revulsion at the president’s behavior in the strongest terms they can. Impeach and convict.”

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine founded by televangelist Billy Graham, called for impeachment and described DDT’s actions “immoral.” [DDT’s photo for the article.] Editor-in-chief Mark Galli wrote:

“In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment….

“The facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.

“The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.

“Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.

“This concern for the character of our national leader is not new in CT. In 1998, we wrote this:

“The President’s failure to tell the truth—even when cornered—rips at the fabric of the nation. This is not a private affair. For above all, social intercourse is built on a presumption of trust: trust that the milk your grocer sells you is wholesome and pure; trust that the money you put in your bank can be taken out of the bank; trust that your babysitter, firefighters, clergy, and ambulance drivers will all do their best. And while politicians are notorious for breaking campaign promises, while in office they have a fundamental obligation to uphold our trust in them and to live by the law.

“And this:

“Unsavory dealings and immoral acts by the President and those close to him have rendered this administration morally unable to lead.

“Unfortunately, the words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president….

“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?…

“To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence. And just when we think it’s time to push all our chips to the center of the table, that’s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern.”

Galli erroneously wrote that DDT was not allowed to give his side in the impeachment inquiry. He was invited to send witnesses and lawyers but refused. But his other information is right on target.

DDT’s base sometimes seems deeply entrenched in its cult-like behavior, but a few votes can make a different. He won the Electoral College by under 80,000 votes, a small number in the approximately 138 votes cast for the 2016 presidential election.

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